Thursday, 12 April 2012

City Of God (2002) - ★★★★

Director: Fernando Meirelles, Katia Lund
Writers: Braulio Mantovani (screenplay), Paulo Lins (novel)
Stars: Alexandre Rodriguez, Leandro Firmino, Seu Jorge

City of God, or Cidade de Deus, is the marvelous telling of a true story about the crime syndicate in Rio de Janeiro through the eyes of Rocket, an aspiring photographer. It is a Brazilian film from Fernando Meirelles that chronicles the crime in the Rio de Janeiro slums through introducing many different characters and showing us where life took them.

Rocket starts the story by recounting his knowledge of the simple street gangs where theft and corruption were spearheaded by three young men and a boy. When one of their hotel robberies ended in a bloody massacre, only the young boy escaped death. He was the most sadistic sociopath of them all. His name L'il Ze, played by Leandro Firmino. When the kickin' seventies began and the illegal drugs industry boomed, crime evolved from being small gangs and private drug dealers into a large organized industry led by Li'l Ze. From following Rocket's own personal struggles, we see Li'l Ze's immorality through his use of killing people for fun and to expand his business. The acting was brilliant from Firmino. The twisted looks he'd express on his face were spine-chilling.

The cinematography throughout the film was beautifully effective through the amazing reconstruction and shots of what the old Rio de Janeiro looked like. I was instantly drawn to hate Li'l Ze, even when he was a child. Meirelles did a great job at defining each character and creating their personalities. I came to like many, and mourn the loss of them too. If you are a fan of crime, murder or a good foreign film, City of God is a marvelous film to see. I believe it should have been nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, because it is miles better than many of the other nominees and even the winner.

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